Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, August

Stachytarpheta 'Nectarwand Red', red false vervain, Pipevine Swallowtail. Thanks to Leslie Kuss and the Moth and Butterfly I.D. group on Facebook for their help. Bloom Day.

Hello friends! I’m actually making it to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day this month on the actual day! I think it’s the first time this year. Go me!

Tiered borders with Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm,' 'Becky' shasta daisies and 'Bright Eyes' phlox is blooming with abandon from all the rain.
Tiered borders with Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ black-eyed Susans, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’ shasta daisies and ‘Bright Eyes’ Phlox paniculata are blooming like crazy from all the rain. Thank goodness for black-eyed Susans! They knit my entire summer garden together.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is sponsored on the 15th of each month by Carol Michel of May Dreams Gardens. Hop over there to see what’s blooming in other people’s gardens all over the world.

Rain again fell on Little Cedar today. We had several pop-up showers that didn’t last long, but when I went out to take photos, it was so humid my camera lens kept fogging up. Then, I came inside and realized all my pictures were black.

Arrrgh! No, I did not forget to remove my lens cap. I have no idea what happened, but it’s all fixed now. I ran back outside and took more photos as thunder boomed all around me. I was quicker than a frog sliding into a lily pond except I hopped back inside.

You know I have to include a photo of my favorite rose, 'Carefree Beauty,' a/k/a 'Katy Road Pink.' If this one ever gets Rose Rosette, you'll find me in the closet having a good cry.
You know I have to include a photo of my favorite rose, ‘Carefree Beauty,’ a/k/a ‘Katy Road Pink.’ If this one ever gets Rose Rosette, you’ll find me in the closet having a good cry.

We didn’t get any rain in June and July, but August has been a different story. I think over three inches fell on my little garden, and that makes my heart glad.

Trying to achieve the ever-elusive symmetry.
Trying to achieve the ever-elusive garden symmetry. Nothing in life is perfect. It’s not supposed to be.

I returned from GWA’s annual meeting in Buffalo, NY, last week, and I’ve been playing catch-up in and out of the garden ever since. I filed two columns with two different editors today and last week. I also harvested a ton of vegetables in my potager and cutting garden. I did a little live video on Facebook of the harvest.

As for blooms, because of the rain, we’ve got some. I wandered my overgrown ornamental garden this morning, and I feel rather bad about my neglect of it. After the garden tour, I lost all interest in these beds and borders.

Perennial garden doing its thing. Tightwad Red crapemyrtle in front. Purple crapemyrtles behind.
Perennial garden doing its thing. Tightwad Red crapemyrtle in front. Purple crapemyrtles behind.

I can hear you clucking. I’m sorry. I just worked so hard in it that I lost myself a little. I tried so hard to make it perfect that I forgot why I even garden.

Do you ever do that?

After the tour, I ran off to Garden Bloggers’ Fling and wandered other people’s gardens on tour, grateful that they weren’t mine. When I returned home, I was still tired. I overworked myself, and there’s a lesson, or as my friend, Mary Ann, of Gardens of the Wild, Wild West, would say, a pony in there somewhere. Maybe stop working so hard and trying to be so perfect? Maybe?

(Click on the photos to make them larger.)

I’m happy to say my vegetable and cutting gardens saved the day and me in July. They just seemed to ask for nothing, which isn’t true of course. I worked steadily in them too before the tour. However, they were ready for harvest, and harvest I did. I still have tons of tomatoes on the vine. I’m going to write another post on the cutting and vegetable gardens as soon as I catch my breath. Anyway, they made me remember why I garden.

Why you ask?

Because I simply must. I’m a writer and a gardener, and I must garden and write if I am to breathe. And, in these trying times, we must all remember to breathe.

Luckily, the ornamental beds and borders, while as wild as western mustangs, are somewhat contained by their formal edges and straight lines. I’m lucky ornamental gardens are forgiving. I just wish the Monarchs I’ve been seeing would get with it and lay some eggs. I’ll bring their caterpillars inside and raise them for a new generation if they do. I have tropical milkweed and perennial Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed, planted in many places–wherever it’s sunny. Oh, and if you live in Oklahoma don’t feel guilty for using tropical milkweed. It’s not going to kill your caterpillars. It dies all the way to the ground each fall so no worries. I’m saving seed this year to grow my own. I like A. curassavica ‘Silky Gold’ better than the orange one. Not being from Oklahoma State University, the University of Tennessee or the University of Texas, my favorite color is not orange.

I do, however, like a soft orange bloom, and some flowers are exquisitely beautiful in various shades of orange. Take agastache for example. Agastache Kudos™ Ambrosia is growing in a container on the deck. I never could grow agastache in my garden. The plants always rotted about Midsummer no matter how I prepared the soil. In a weird moment of buying plants online in a snowstorm last winter, I ordered two agastache plants. When they came, I was horrified and told my friend, Faire from Fairegarden. She calmly suggested I grow them in pots since it worked for her in Tennessee. Faire is a gardening guru in my book so I tried it. When it worked so well, I bought two more. I plan to bring these inside my greenhouse this winter and keep them for next year. I just used good potting soil, but if you’re worried, you could work in some sand too. The hummingbirds and I are very happy.

Agastache Kudos Ambrosia.
One bloom spike of Agastache Kudos™Ambrosia.

Another plant that’s really pleasing the butterflies and me this year is Stachytarpheta ‘Nectarwand Red’, red false vervain, a Bustani Plant Farm Introduction. Isn’t it beautiful? How about this Pipevine Swallowtail? Be still my heart!

Special thanks to Leslie Kuss of Growing a Garden in Davis, and the Moth and Butterfly Identification Forum on Facebook for their help in identifying this butterfly.

This is why I garden. Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

Favorite perennials from Bustani Plant Farm

Favorite perennials. Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii, hummingbird shrub

A couple of weeks ago, I ran up to Stillwater to visit Bustani Plant Farm, which as you know, is my favorite nursery. I had a lovely time, and I bought a lot of plants.

Where do I put them all?

Shrug. It’s a big garden–about an acre and a half total.

This post started out as a list of all my favorite plants from Bustani Plant Farm, but it became too long.

So, let’s start with my favorite perennials, shall we?

Cestrum ‘Orange Peel.’ I think Steve and Ruth Owens sell two other varieties of cestrum also, but the one I grow is ‘Orange Peel.’ It blooms in the middle of summer for a long time and is a great backdrop for other large-flowered plants. ‘Orange Peel’ grows about three feet high in my garden in full screamin’ sun. I grow it next to ‘Pink Velour’ crapemyrtle and Salvia greggii ‘Pink Preference.’

Wait, though, I also grow a purple cestrum. I like it too, but I don’t have a photo of it. Here’s a link to Cestrum x cultam ‘Cretan Purple.’ While not as bright as the yellow and orange ones, it’s very pretty too.

Speaking of S. greggii ‘Pink Preference,’ if you have a hot and sunny spot–and who in Oklahoma doesn’t–‘Pink Preference’ will do the job beautifully. It’s also a native S. greggii introduced by nurseryman and plant hunter, Logan Calhoun. Click the link to read more about Calhoun and his influence on gardening. I grow many plants which he discovered in his travels.


Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Fast Forward’ pink muhly grass, is another plant that steals the show in fall. Plant it with anything and watch the traffic stop outside your house come September. ‘Fast Forward’ is supposed to bloom earlier than other muhly grasses.

Favorite perennials. Gaillardia 'Punch Bowl'
Gaillardia ‘Punch Bowl’ in my garden in 2015.

Gaillardia ‘Punch Bowl.’ I know gaillardias are iffy in the perennial department because they often bloom themselves to death in summer. Even if you had to replant ‘Punch Bowl’ each and every year, it is worth doing that. Such a gorgeous pink and yellow. I also really like ‘Arizona Red Shades,’ but I probably wouldn’t plant it right next to ‘Punch Bowl.’ I think they might clash.

Ajuga ‘Burgundy Glow.’ I don’t take a lot of photos of this plant because it blooms in early spring when I’m usually knee-deep in leaf removal. I do know I like the blue flowers against the multi-colored foliage. In summer, ajuga creeps out of my garden beds and into the paths in a charming, but non-obtrusive way. I love that ‘Burgundy Glow’ is variegated, pink and purple, and that it loves the heat. Sometimes, I have to replace a section of it in the spring if we get a lot of rain and cold over the winter.

Amsonia hubrichtii, threadleaf blue star amsonia. This sweet little native should be in everyone’s garden. It takes awhile to get it started, but it’s worth the wait. Remember, with perennials, it takes about three years for them to get their legs. This type of amsonia is my favorite because of its texture, the blue flowers in spring and its yellow foliage in fall. I’m sorry I don’t have a photo of it. Again, I’m usually busy working. Trust me. It’s gorgeous.

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii, hummingbird shrub. Whew! What a mouthful! This is one of my all-time favorite shrubs. I love the shade of orange the blooms are. I love the shape it grows in and that just when you think it’s dead (It dies back to the ground in my garden each winter) it comes up and starts vigorously growing. It is beautiful, drought tolerant, and hummingbirds love it.

Japanese false nettle, Boehmeria nipononivea 'Kogane Mushi,' with Phlox paniculata in partial shade.
Japanese false nettle, Boehmeria nipononivea ‘Kogane Mushi,’ with Phlox paniculata in partial shade.

Boehmeria nipononivea ‘Kogane Mushi’, Japanese false nettle. A wonderful plant that lights up the shade garden. In my garden, it grows quite large, about four feet by four feet, which makes it a glowing shrub-like plant in my late-summer landscape.

Hibiscus ‘Moy Grande.’ Not many flowers bloom in July, but ‘Moy Grande’ never disappoints. It’s one of the summer flowers I recommend for summer heat. In my opinion, this is still the best of the perennial hibiscus, and I grow several of them. The big, bold hot pink flowers are simply amazing, and bumblebees can’t enough of the pollen and nectar.

Spigelia marilandica, Indian pink, has the cutest pink/red and yellow flowers. It is an upright growing, small native perennial that is great for the front of the border.
Spigelia marilandica, Indian pink, has the cutest pink/red and yellow flowers. It is an upright growing, small native perennial that is great for the front of the border.

Spigelia marilandica, Indian pink. This little plant is a U.S. native. It attracts hummingbirds, and it blooms in sun or shade. I grow mine at the edge of my shade garden. It is slow to multiply so I’ve been working increasing its numbers in my garden for several years. Such a pleasure to see it blooming every morning.

One more thing, buying your plants from local nurseries is important. Although I have nothing against box stores, I try to support my local nurseries with the bulk of my purchases. They frankly need the money more.

There are many other perennials I’ve purchased from Bustani over the years, but I’m tired, and I need another cup of coffee. You can’t go wrong with my favorite perennials. Take a quick road trip and get yourself some.